Just Opened: ‘Dynamic H2O’ at Children’s Museum of Manhattan

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New York City parents who think they know everything they need to about The Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s water-play options are all wet! That’s because there’s a new exhibit opening just in time for summer: “Dynamic H20.” Read on to find out how kids can chill out this summer — and learn something in the process!

Photo: CMOM

photo: John Smock, CMOM

A New Way to Get Wet
The museum’s previous water play installation, City Spalsh, helped kids and caregivers beat the heat with blessedly-cool water running through a series of pipes, as well as plastic boats, duckies and other toys. Its replacement, “Dynamic H2O” adds an educational component to the proceedings, introducing fun facts about how water, and where NYC’s water supply makes it to our taps and tubs.

H2O Info: If it weren’t for gravity, raindrops would be perfect spheres!

The learning begins immediately upon entry. Just pass by the “America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far” exhibit previously covered here, and head for the glass doors heading outside. Right away, you’ll learn that the bulk of NYC’s water comes from the Catskill Mountains. Because it travels downhill, the pressure is enough so that no city building below 6 stories tall needs a pump. The water rises on its own all the way up to the rooftop water tanks.

H2O Info: NYC’s skyline is nicknamed the “cedar forest,” because it has more water-towers than any other spot in the United States!

But don’t take the museum’s word for it. Kids can try it themselves, using their feet to furiously pump enough water to fill up replicas of various-sized buildings, including a skyscraper.

H2O Info: It can take two to 12 months for water to travel the 125 miles from the Catskill Mountains to your bathroom and kitchen.

YH8S3812New exhibit

photo: Aoommiephotography.com, CMOM


The Big Picture 
Downstairs, a colorful map taking up two whole walls details the origin and journey of NYC’s water supply, starting with clouds and mountains, then running through forests and aqueducts, and finally arriving here.

H2O Info: New York City is one of only five large U.S. cities that do not have to filter most of their water, due to protected watersheds and wooded areas that take care of the process naturally.

YH8S3748New exhibit

photo: Aoommiephotography.com, CMOM

Learn By Doing (Or Just Have fun)
While there’s tons of interesting info about NYC’s water to read and digest, there’s tons of experiential learning and pure splashy enjoyment to be had here.

“Dynamic H2O’s” centerpiece is a 16 foot-long interactive water-table where kids ages 2 to 10 can  float playthings downstream, follow the natural flow of currents – and play “God” by creating new routes using barriers and lily pads. Little ones can also adjust flow and pressure, and use Duplo Lego Blocks to play mini-developer by building high-rises along prime “waterfront” properties. There’s also an opportunity to build your own aqueduct by moving pipes around in various configurations to try and recreate the water’s journey from the Catskills to NYC.

YH8S3687New exhibit

photo: Aoommiephotography.com, CMOM

The Science of H2O
The exhibit goes beyond explaining the water supply and letting kids replicate it on a small scale; you’ll also find a series of tables that serve as outdoor “laboratories”, where little visitors can learn more about the science of clean water.

At a marine biology station, kids learn about how natural elements help filter the water supply with some mock mollusks made of sponges. Squeeze your water in, and watch to see what comes out.

At a hydrology station, visitors can sniff some odorous samples of water, to detect “good” and “bad” H2O.

At the ecology and you station, spin some gears and make water safe to drink, all on your own. Plus, learn about the chemicals that are added to clean water, protect pipes and prevent corrosion, as well as how water is exposed to ultraviolet light to destroy any remaining germs.

The exhibit finishes with an explanation of how water keeps us alive — perhaps the most relevant info of all!

“Dynamic H2O” is free with CMOM admission, as are the educator-led workshops scheduled to take place for the duration of the exhibit’s run through September 2016.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
Admission: $12 Children and Adults, $8 Seniors
Online: www.cmom.org

What’s your favorite place to cool off in the summer? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Alina Adams

John Smock, CMOM
The other three should be Aoommiephotography.com, CMOM.